Horse-drawn transportation is quite common in Nicaragua. Everywhere we went horses were a common sight on the road. This was not only a feature of more rural areas, even in major cities you will encounter horse powered vehicles.
I found the use of horses for basic transport rather pleasant, though I only had a brief ride at one of the farms. With one or two exceptions, the horses looked well cared for and in excellent shape. The horse is still a practical and cost effective form of transportation in much of the world. I wonder if we in the US, under pressure from rising oil prices, will once again find the horse a practical form of transport as well.
While the language barrier was usually a bit of a problem, sometimes I got the message quite clearly despite only understanding half the words.
As my mother taught about soil quality and erosion control inside I was free to explore the farms. I used the opportunity to photograph the lives of the residents of Tierra Amarilla, it was a beautiful sunny day and everyone was enjoying the warm afternoon.
Residents from across the valley had gathered, including many who were not attending the class inside, any excuse to gather and socialize. Women gathered around the kitchen at one end of the house, quite a few younger men gathered around a pickup parked under cover at the other end of the house. The kids were everywhere.
Someone apparently had an idea, I will never know who, “Let’s get the gringo on a horse!” I first noticed when everyone was looking at me. “Uh? What do you want? What about the horse?”
With a dozen guys looking on I had to give in to their insistence and to get on the horse. Fortunato, our driver was no help, he was trying to translate for me, telling me to get on the horse and laughing with the rest. Language was of little issue, the jovial comments and laughter were a clear indication of what they thought would happen. The kids in particular were looking on with glee.
The horse in question belonged to one of the farmers present for the training. He had ridden it in just before the event started, it was still saddled up and tied in the shade of a tree near the house. A smaller horse, a very sturdy animal, it appeared to be well used to this sort of life, traveling the steep trails of the surrounding hills. While one of the kids untied the lead rope I got on.
Much to their disappointment, I can ride a horse.
While I am no great horseman, I do know the basics, and generally do not fall off. Actually the horse was a very well trained and a well behaved animal. My mount took directions well and I rode a quick circuit of the yard. I could sense the let down in my spectators, the kids particularly. They were nice enough to take my photo when I handed them the camera.
Off island guests, always the best excuse to get out and explore the Big Island. this time it is my sister in-law Darcy and her friend Karen. With three horse addicted women, add my wife to that list, it is inevitable that at least one excursion would involve a ride.
The Big Island offers many options for horseback rides, with a rich ranching history the traditions of horsemanship run deep in local culture. Several island ranches offer riding excursions. This time we chose a slightly different setting, the beautiful Waipio Valley.
Na’alapa Stables offers a two and a half hour morning or afternoon ride. We chose a morning ride to avoid the usual afternoon clouds common on the Hamakua Coast. The ride is just under $90 per person, and they do offer a kama’aina discount.